By: Adam Gretz
Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic had a meeting with Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's vice president of player safety, on Monday afternoon to discuss the play that took place on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres when Lucic hit goaltender Ryan Miller after he came out of the crease to play a loose puck.
Following Shanahan's review, as well as his discussion with Lucic, it was determined that the Bruins forward will not face any supplemental discipline.
Despite the calls from fans to allow goalies to be hit when the leave their crease, goalies are not "fair game" when they exit the blue paint. The NHL rule book states that incidental contact may be permitted at the referee's discretion when the goalie is playing the puck outside of his crease, as long the skater makes a reasonable effort to avoid the contact.
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Said Shanahan, via the league's official web site, "I had the hearing because I did make an initial assessment of the play as I do with all plays, but I did have some questions for Milan and I wanted to hear directly from him. They were regarding his intent; at what point did he know there was going to be a collision; and whether or not he felt he had the time to avoid the collision. I was satisfied with his answers."
Lucic received a two-minute minor for charging, while it was later revealed that Miller suffered a concussion and will not be in the crease when the Sabres visit the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
Miller was livid following the game and was brutally honest when it came his post-game comments, saying "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is."
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli released a statement relaying his pleasure not only with the NHL's decision, but Lucic not responding to Miller's postgame remarks.
"We are satisfied with the NHL's announcement that there will be no suspension or fine for Milan, and we respect the process that the League took to reach this decision.
"I am also proud that Milan took the high road, and chose not to engage in an exchange of words after the unfortunate comments that were made about him following the game."
The "statement" from Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was decidedly different.
“It just means that teams will be to able do exactly what Lucic did,” Ruff told reporters before Buffalo's game in Montreal. “Your goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over, we can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty.
“That is essentially what that means -- You can concuss the other team's goalkeeper ... it means it's fair game on goaltenders again."
Shanahan wasn't on board with the idea that the decision opened pandora's box on goalies across the league, instead condeming Ruff and the Sabres.
"I think Buffalo's comments are irresponsible to suggest that it's open season," Shanahan said at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "I will have this warning for players: `It's not. If you run a goalie you're going to find yourself in the same situation that Lucic was today, you're going to have to explain yourself and you don't explain it sufficiently, and if I don't buy it, you're going to be suspended."'The Sabres and Bruins meet again on Nov. 23.
The play has been a hot topic of discussion around the league, and on Monday Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, who coached Miller at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, wondered if the NHL should be doing more to protect goalies. Here's what he had to say from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail:
Wilson's team has been without its starting goalie, James Reimer, for nearly a month after he took a hit to the head while standing in his crease in a game against the Montreal Canadiens back in October. The NHL general managers meetings are scheduled to start on Tuesday, and while this isn't a subject that was planned on being discussed, it wouldn't be a shock if it makes its way into the conversation at some point.
"It'll be interesting to see the direction the league's going to go. There's no white papers out there to describe that kind of an injury or hit with regards to goaltenders. If it was a defenceman, you'd say that it was a clean hit.
"However, a goaltender's more or less defenceless in some of those situations. They're not wearing the same type of equipment, they're not built to absorb a 250-pound freight train running you over. Whereas a defenceman may. That's the debate that's going to go on in the next couple of days. Should we be protecting goaltenders?"
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